INDIANAPOLIS — As a narrative begins to form around last week’s mass shooting at an area FedEx, we are learning more about the suspected shooter and the mental health struggles he may have faced. Local health experts say Indiana is behind other states when it comes to outlets for mental health for youth.
“I think we are definitely a state where there is a significant lack of mental health resources across the life span, but especially for kids,” said Gabriela Rodriguez, a child psychologist at Riley Children’s Hospital. “If I had my wish list, I think investment is huge. I think having school mental health services is a good step in the right direction.”
It was only March of last year that 19-year-old Brandon Hole told Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) officers that he wanted die by suicide by being shot by police. Last week he killed himself, along with eight other people at an area FedEx.
“It is a newer, growing trend,” explained Maggie Owens talking about suicide by police. Owens is the director of Education and Community Relations at the Indiana Center of Prevention of Youth Abuse and Suicide. “By no means do I think it’s a popular thing, but we have seen more cases of it.”
Owens echoes Rodriguez saying change should starts in schools. She says kids and teens are more likely to tell peers about their problems. She would like to see area schools receive more resources, so children can notice the warning signs in others.
“The kids are not being equipped with all the knowledge to know how to intervene,” explained Owens.
It was only January that legislators introduced a bill that would require all schools to put the national suicide hotline number on all student identification cards.
“This has been an incredibly challenging year in so many different ways. If we can provide some help provide some support the better,” added Rodriguez. “Firstly, it’s important to validate that this is really, really challenging, and that their feelings make sense.”
Owens and Rodriguez say mental health warning signs can range from changes in appetite or sleep to changes in social behavior with friends.